India, Japan to boost defence ties

Last Updated: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 14:56

Tokyo: India and Japan are to hold their first
bilateral naval exercises next year and have agreed to boost
military cooperation, in line with Tokyo`s desire to upgrade
defence ties with New Delhi to balance China`s growing
maritime assertiveness.

Boosting defence ties was one of the major issues to
figure in high-level talks between the visiting Defence
Minister A K Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yasuo
Ichikawa.

Details of the naval exercises between Japan`s maritime
defence forces and the Indian navy expected to be held next
year would be worked out in future discussions.

The decision to hold joint naval exercises comes in the
wake of moves by Japan to counter China`s increasing
aggressiveness in the South China Sea where tensions have
risen between Chinese and other littoral countries.

The two countries have also decided to hold joint
exercises between their armed forces alongside enhancing their
combined anti-piracy efforts.

During the day-long delegation level talks with his
Japanese counterpart, Antony said military ties between the
two countries are "transparent" and "geared towards peace and
prosperity of the region" and hoped that in future, the
India-Japan defence cooperation will scale new heights.

The two sides "recognised the importance of sea lanes and
decided to actively pursue consultations and cooperation in
the field of maritime security both bilaterally and in
association with all other countries in the region", Defence
Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

The two sides will initiate the India-Japan Defence Policy
Dialogue early next year here and also expressed satisfaction
over the planned defence exchanges under which the Japanese
Defence Minister will visit New Delhi later this year, he
said.

Expressing happiness over coordination between the two
Navies in their anti-piracy efforts, Antony said India has
increased its deployment in the East Arabian Sea since
November 2010 and felt "concerted efforts of the world
community, under a UN mandate, are necessary to effectively
address the problem".

"There is a need to not only have a legal framework for
prosecuting the pirates, but concerted efforts are also
necessary to track the money-trail and to stop it from being
channelized for funding terrorist activities, worldwide," he
said.

The Defence Minister expressed hope that respective
organisations from both sides would be able to establish a
mechanism to share the escort schedules with the merchant
ships flagged with them.

On maintaining the security of the Sea Lanes of
Communication (SLOC), Antony said, "India supports freedom of
navigation in international waters and the rights of passage
in accordance with accepted principles of international law,
including the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea
which should be respected by all".

As per the discussions, there will be an exercise between
Japanese and Indian Navy next year and there will also be a
cadet exchange programme between the National Defence Academy
of both India and Japan.

"Both sides will implement Staff Talks between Ground Self
Defence Forces and Indian Army in 2012. Staff Exchanges
between Air SDF and Indian Air Force will be held in 2012 and
be developed to Staff Talks at the earliest date," Kar said.

The two sides will implement exchanges on peacekeeping
operations including exchanges between International Peace
Cooperation Training and Exercise Unit of the Central
Readiness Force of GSDF and Centre for United Nations
Peacekeeping (CUNPK), India, Kar added.

The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Shashi
Kant Sharma, Indian Ambassador to Japan, Aloke Prasad, Navy
Vice Chief Vice Admiral R K Dhowan and Central Army Commander
Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 14:56

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